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Orlando Pecanha recalls Brazil's defensive innovations

  • SI.com , Wednesday, February 17, 2010 3:47 AM

The death last week of Orlando Pecanha at the age of 74 prompted Tim Vickery to look back at the history of Brazil's defense. Pecanha played in the central defense alongside Bellini, the team captain, when Brazil won its first World Cup, in 1958 in Sweden.

It was Brazil that came up with the idea of the back four, notes Vickery. The old WM system had space for three defenders -- two fullbacks and a center back (who formed the base of the M). Coming up against superb strikers every week in domestic soccer concentrated the minds of Brazilian coaches, who hit upon the idea of placing another man in the heart of the defense. Now there would always be cover; one would mark and the other would be spare, ready to mop up the danger if his colleague was beaten. And so the modern back four was born.

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